Calling out and getting out of bed are two common child and toddler sleep issues. A nightly routine – and a bit of persistence on your part – can cut down on bedtime problems.
Getting out of bed or caling out: why children do it
Children call out or get out of bed for many reasons.
What to do when children call out or get out of bed
Step 1: Set up a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is the most important part of helping young children go to bed and settle. A basic routine involves:
Here are some things to think about when you’re setting up or changing a bedtime routine to deal with calling out or getting out of bed.
Think about timing
Do a quick check before lights out
Before turning out the light, check that your child has done all the things that might cause calling out later. Has your child had a drink? Been to the toilet? Brushed teeth?
Turn on a night-light if this makes your child feel more comfortable.
Remind your child of what you expect
Before you leave the bedroom, you can say that you want your child to stay quietly in bed – for example, ‘It’s time to rest quietly in bed’. You can also say, 'I'll come back and check on you once you're quiet'.
Next you can say ‘Goodnight’ or ‘I love you, sleep tight’ (or whatever you usually say when your child goes to bed). And then walk out of the bedroom.
Praise your child for being quiet
If you go back to check on your child, give them some brief and gentle praise – for example, ‘Well done for staying in bed. You’re doing a good job of quiet resting’. You can phase out these checks as your child gets better at settling themselves.
Aim for consistency
Bedtime routines work best when they’re used consistently by all the grown-ups who settle your child.
Step 2: Deal with calling out and getting out of bed
Try a ‘free pass’
A strategy that might work with children over 3 years is the ‘free pass’:
Step 3: What to do if children get very upset
Step 4: Start the next day in a positive wayMake a point of praising or rewarding your child the next morning for staying quietly in bed. You could even celebrate with a special breakfast surprise or a phone call to a special person.